Patti Stewkesbury, Marketing Director of Kinsley Group, wrote a reflection of the Kinsley Group’s recent experience of volunteering and adopting a client with Journey Home’s Making a House a Home program.

In October, The Kinsley Group was matched with Journey Home. Turning the new apartment into a home soon became Kinsley’s job!

Kinsley was matched with, Jenny, a young mother of two, who had just moved into her own place after being homeless and needed help making her new apartment a home. Four people from the Kinsley Employee Activities Committee visited with her to uncover what she needed to make her house a home. The sad answer was almost everything! Our goal was before us! We worked to obtain the items on her list from tag sales, consignment shops and our own attics! When we visited with Jenny, she was reluctant to ask for everything she needed. So we worked with her to make the list comprehensive and inclusive of everything she might need. It can be hard for the person on the receiving end, and we imagined it was probably embarrassing for her, though she never let that on. We took her list and ran with it. We posted fliers up in our facility, placed a box in the lunchroom for donations and designated an area in our warehouse for furniture, which soon came pouring in! We shopped tag sale sites on facebook and found that many people donated that item instead of their original intent to sell it once they found out what we were doing! We also discovered how kind people are in general, with so many strangers feeling an immediate connectedness to the cause. People are so willing to help when you make it personal. At yard sales, the same thing happened! People donated items that were for sale. Most Items weren’t new, but in good condition. We also collected money from something Kinsley calls “Jean’s Friday” where we designate a quarterly charity as the recipient of a $25.00 donation that employees pay in order to wear jeans on Fridays. We used that money to purchase things like diapers and other items we didn’t receive in donation!

During the two weeks of our campaign, I acted as point person with our family. I kept her updated and let her see photos of the growing pile! We never pried into her life or circumstances which enabled her to trust us. She loved being connected with us, the way we were to her. I let her pick when we received multiples of the same item. She loved being part of it.

When move in time came, we arranged for a team of volunteers to use Kinsley’s allotted “community service” hours to bring the items in company vehicles to the home. A team of eight descended on the apartment in Hartford and made short work of moving in! Within an hour and a half everything was in, the beds were set up, locks and curtain rods installed and furniture placed! We happily hauled the dirty mattress that the family had been sleeping on out to the curb!

This opportunity with Journey Home was an amazing one for everyone involved. It displayed the caring nature of our company and the importance of community. It’s often said “it takes a village” and this project made us feel like “villagers” helping a young mom who badly needed it. The best part of the experience was when Jenny said “I hope one day I can do for somebody what you have done for me.” The Journey Home program is truly changing lives, and possibly hearts and minds. I would recommend that any company trying to engage in the community become part of Journey Home and “adopt” a family, it likely won’t be your last!